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A Journal of Crime, Conflict & World Order

Why Is Social Justice Unique?

Founded in 1974, Social Justice is a quarterly nonprofit educational journal that seeks to promote human dignity, equality, peace, and genuine security. As one of the few independent journals from the 1970s to have survived, its contents reflect its origins and ability to renew its vitality through a series of often tumultuous decades. Its early focus on issues of crime, police repression, social control, and the penal system has expanded to encompass globalization, human and civil rights, border, citizenship, and immigration issues, environmental victims and health and safety concerns, social policies affecting welfare and education, ethnic and gender relations, and persistent global inequalities. The journal has framed its vision of social justice with an understanding of the international dimensions of power, inequality, and injustice. In doing so, it has formed part of an international community of progressive intellectuals, activists, and movements. The connection to that community has helped Social Justice keep its bearings in times of stormy weather (such as the nasty squalls of the Reagan era or the hurricane winds at the end of the Cold War). Social Justice continues to promote social criticism as a distinctive form of knowledge and respects the theoretical implications of practice and the practical aspects of theory. We present divergent viewpoints in a readable fashion. The American Library Association's Social Responsibility Roundtable said of Social Justice that concerned citizens with an interest in current affairs will appreciate the well written and edited articles, while ample notes and references satisfy the academic reader.

The journal has published the work of leading theorists and activists such as Noam Chomsky, Edward S. Herman, Stan Cohen, Angela Davis, Immanuel Wallerstein, Samir Amin, Stuart Hall, Andre Gunder Frank, Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, Elizabeth Martinez, John Brown Childs, Margo Okazawa-Rey, Ward Churchill, Eduardo Galeano, William Chambliss, Susanne Jonas, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, Makota Oda, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Kathleen Daly, Pablo González Casanova, Alexander Cockburn, Hans Koning, Gwendolyn Mink, Sara Diamond, Elaine Kim, Frank Zimring, Linda Gordon, Frances Fox-Piven, Albie Sachs, Dana Takagi, Christian Parenti, Annette Jaimes, Victor Sidel, Tony Platt, Elliott Currie, Gary T. Marx, Martha Huggins, John Irwin, Nigel South, Nikos Passas, Nobel laureates Rigoberta Menchu and Jody Williams, and many others.

Comments on Social Justice on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary

Social Justice has been one of my primary gauges for gleaning "correct" analyses of crime, control, and justice from a worldwide perspective, grounded in comparative, international, and cultural studies, years before "globalization" or "transnationalization" had become fashionable in popular and scientific circles. Over the years, the journal has also informed much of my epistemological orientation toward theory and practice, and towards ideology, policy, and application. In its political-economic orientation to crime and social justice, the journal as a radical forum has been open to a variety of postcolonial and postmodern writings that reflect the journal's highly inclusive and integrative approach to crime, conflict, and world order. Whether the objects of inquiry were labeled early on as "crimes against humanity" or "crimes of imperialism," "crimes of sexism," "crimes of exploitation," or more recently as "state crimes," "environmental crimes," and "transnational crimes," the focus has always been on the big picture of crime and justice, or on telling the most comprehensive (believable) stories of crime and social control.... Always engaged with the local and the global, the journal has taken pioneering steps in the transnational study of crime and social justice. From its birth, the journal has been concerned with the role of the state in the affairs of the individual and the world, with the various forms and shapes "rights" have taken, and with the developments in law and human rights struggles that have advanced the perceptions and conceptions of the human condition, in terms of peace and justice.

Gregg Barak, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti

I admire and find pleasure in the breadth of Social Justice, the range of issues covered in 25 years, the place it makes for différences in Derrida's sense minority statuses, unfair and debilitating economic and political conditions, etc. Occasionally, I wish the editors would include more in-depth, "vertical" analyses of particular problems, with less emphasis on the geopolitical "horizon." More crucially, though, it is important for the editors to know that the journal is read and quoted, and that its articles are debated as was again recently the case with Ronnie Lippens' article "Hypermodernity, Nomadic Subjectivities, and Radical Democracy."

Marie-Andrée Bertrand, Professor Emeritus of Criminology, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

In times like this, we need analyses of specific issues as well as overarching analyses that tie the repressive, dangerous, and bewildering aspects of national and international developments together. Social Justice provides an exceedingly important forum for such analyses. With its special issues on a wide range of topics, and its insightful articles, Social Justice gives its readers penetrating analyses that enlighten and provide understanding of the crises we confront. Very few other professional journals within our fields, criminology and sociology of law, do just that. Social Justice thus fills a critical and large white spot on the map of crime and social justice.

Nils Christie, Professor of Criminology, University of Oslo, Faculty of Law, Oslo, Norway, and Thomas Mathiesen, Professor of Sociology of Law, University of Oslo

In a world where journals seem to multiply daily, why have I continued to read (Crime and) Social Justice? The journal has continually struggled to sustain the connection between analysis and politics.... There is a sense in which I view Social Justice as a central force in the continuing effort to keep academic work honest. The ease with which academics "forget" the social and political contexts, conditions, and consequences of their work is a recurrently depressing phenomenon. Social Justice has kept a consistently skeptical and critical eye on that sort of detachment, especially in relation to the field of criminology, though also in other areas. As one of the "applied" arms of the social sciences, criminology has been particularly prone to such amnesia and particularly in need of the reminders that the journal has provided.... The journal has been remarkable for its persistent examination of the multifaceted problem of the state, particularly during a period when many forms of social analysis have turned away from the state as a focus of attention. Social Justice has continued to deal with it as both an object and a site of political struggles, as the institutionalization or embodiment of crucial forms of power, as an agency of criminalization and repression, and as a criminal and terrorist agency.... Its editors and contributors have sustained a view of the world in which conflicts and struggles are at the center. This is not a matter of gestural additions at the end of totalizing and immobilizing analyses.... Social Justice offers, even insists on, different connections and different perspectives. It asked me to think about global economic and political interrelationships long before the social sciences "discovered" globalization. It offered a way of thinking about the U.S.-centered character of a global system, from within the U.S.A., but in a critical relationship to it. It helped me to understand how U.S. hegemony dominates and positions a world of "elsewheres," but cannot subsume them. The analyses in Social Justice make me aware of the tensions, conflicts, and continuing struggles that are the stuff of an unstable and unfinished "world order." The writings in the journal have also been important to me for the way they have explored how those tensions and conflicts are not merely external to the U.S.A. They are an integral part of how the U.S. is being remade within, at the same time as it exercises international dominance. Being able to grasp both of those aspects of the U.S.A. is theoretically significant and politically vital.

John Clarke, Professor of Social Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, England

Social Justice has been important to my political education since the first issue 25 years ago. The journal consistently does for me what all my good teachers have done: it wakes me up to something I've been missing and offers a framework for understanding it. Whether in community-activist strategy meetings, in the classroom, or in social situations, the perspectives I offer (at least those that are of any use) are often informed by something I've read in Social Justice.... Social Justice signifies the feasibility of a sustained political and scholarly project that records itself in the process of making itself. The level of critical, political analysis of the state and all that circulates therein, the inclusion of feminist and other minority perspectives in articles and in journal decision-making, the international scope of contributions, the frequent inclusion of criminal justice issues in the context of the larger, shifting U.S. national and international political economy, have for 25 years all served to make Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict & World Order a useful, reliable tool. To all of you who have made the journal a living presence in the collectivity of our lives, I just want to say, thank you.

Karlene Faith, School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada, has long been a community activist for human justice and has done advocacy work with women in prison.

Social Justice's global and world-systemic perspective and coverage are not ephemeral luxuries that could readily be shed or sacrificed to the microscopic examination only of practical brass tacks in the school of criminological hard knocks. On the contrary, this wider SJ-(like) perspective is absolutely essential for any responsible analysis of, not to mention confrontation with, "L.A. Law," "Miami Vice," or the Moscow Mafia.

Andre Gunder Frank, world-systems theorist and long-time contributor to Social Justice, University of Miami and Florida International University

For approximately three decades, Social Justice has persisted in publishing papers dealing with fairness in law, crime, and other cultural practices. The vision of the journal has always been at odds with the dominant paradigms found in academic criminology. Through most of this history, I have been a member of the editorial advisory board and have always been proud of this association.... Without Social Justice, academic criminology would be left with few outlets for progressive analysis of racist police, oppressive drug laws, and a prison-building program that finds the United States as the leader in the proportion of its citizens who are imprisoned.

John Galliher, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Missouri-Columbia

Those of a certain age who possess good longevity genes and some luck will come to know in 2024 whether Social Justice will be with us another 25 years, to celebrate its golden jubilee. Let us devoutly hope so.... Social Justice has a viewpoint, and it is an admirable one.... Haute vulgarization, a French term, sounds derogatory to our ears, but to the French it represents a compliment. It translates as "high-class popularization," a phrase that, as Stephen Jay Gould has noted, is "not at all an oxymoron, but the worthiest of goals for all scientific writers." This is a goal that Social Justice has consistently sought to achieve; and, at least for this reader, it has managed to do so often enough to more than earn appreciation and applause on the celebration of a quarter of a century of its quest for social justice.

Gilbert Geis, Professor Emeritus, Department of Criminology, Law and Society, University of California, Irvine

From the outset, Crime and Social Justice (now Social Justice) has been concerned with the changing role of the police institution and, through its pages, made contributions to mainstream thinking that have helped transform the way that the police are viewed (and taught) in academia today.

Sidney L. Harring, CUNY Law School, New York, and Gerda W. Ray, Department of History, University of Missouri-St. Louis

I have over the years come to regard Social Justice as a constituent element in my own growth and development as an independent-minded, politically conscious scholar. I will forever be indebted to the founding editors of this truly amazing publication for empowering me by their supreme example to think, write, and, in my case, to seek to have published thoughts and ideas that generally fall outside mainstream American academic circles.... Few things in life fulfill me more now than to "work," as an editor of Social Justice, with young scholars seeking to "cut their first tooth" at their first scholarly production.... An inmate in one of New York State's maximum-security prisons wrote to me that his continuous source of inspiration came from regularly reading everything, every article ever published, in editions of Social Justice that he could get his hands on. He was particularly drawn to a piece I had written on black-on-black crime, a piece that, he said, "struck home." I could at last reach, through this authoritative publication, one critical sector of an audience that for me truly mattered.

Bernard D. Headley, Professor, Criminal Justice Department, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, Illinois

Social Justice is an important voice coming from the U.S.A. on ethical issues. It is most necessary today, in a time of full confusion, when a war in Yugoslavia is conducted for "humanitarian values" and when imperialism is justified by ethics.

François Houtart, Director of the Tricontinental Center, Louvain-la-Neuve; Professor Emeritus at the Catholic University of Louvain, renowned liberation theologist and political-economist

I wish to congratulate Social Justice on 25 years of dedication to activism for global justice. You are much admired for your unwavering commitment and, of course, your excellent work, as seen in the consistent high quality of your productions over the years. I salute you and wish you continued success in the future.

Elaine H. Kim, Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley

I'm so sorry not to be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Social Justice with you. Please raise a glass one more time, as I toast your vision, goals, and accomplishments these past years.

Rita Maran, International Human Rights expert, University of California, Berkeley, and Board Member, Amnesty International U.S.A. Human Rights Educators Network

Back in 1980, the journal and its contributors helped enormously to challenge and rupture traditional political and academic notions of crime as pathological or evil, of criminal law as natural and good. Yet the distinctive contribution of Crime and Social Justice was that it explicitly brought together criminology and the study of issues in social justice. This was by no means the norm, especially in the more theoretically driven radical criminologies emanating from Britain that were prominent at the time. A key aim of Crime and Social Justice was to challenge the idea that the justice in terms of which crime was to be understood was the justice that law created. It made clear, in times when this needed to be made clear, that crime and justice could not be divorced from "the social," and that therefore neither could be thought of as merely analytical subjects. Both crime and justice were to be understood from a radical social perspective simultaneously as analytic, political, and moral. I think this is a legacy of which Crime and Social Justice and Social Justice "together" should be proud.... Crime and Social Justice, and later Social Justice, was unusual in its field, due to a disciplined passion that was the feature of few other academically rigorous journals in the social sciences.... Social Justice's continuing agenda of making clear and explicit the complex relationships between crime and social justice takes on new importance now, precisely because the current environment is so "anti-social," and because in the process social justice itself has been removed not only from the official agenda (where it always had a tenuous hold at best), but increasingly also from the new criminologies, where it has no place at all.... I had always admired Social Justice for insisting on dealing with social justice issues on a global level, and for providing information and insight into social justice concerns from "the periphery".... Social Justice provides a vital forum and resource for rethinking the future of what we think of as social justice, for social justice is not a "thing" that we must move toward. In a changing world, it is something we must imagine and create. And if the result does not quite resemble that which we imagined during the era of "the social," we should remember with Baudrillard that the social, and social justice, never were realities. Neither were they myths, as he assumed. They were and are creations.

Pat O'Malley, Professor of Law and Legal Studies, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

In the first issue of Social Justice, 25 years ago, laid out an agenda that to a great degree has been fulfilled in the pages of Social Justice. Today more than ever, there is a need to widen and deepen the scope of research on crime state, corporate, and financial criminal behavior that now reaches every crevice of the globe. Criminology is central to social analysis of what the ideologues of imperialism refer to as "globalization".... Social Justice has made a major contribution in linking social structure, the state, and crime. Yet great tasks lay before us. As the crisis of capitalism deepens and the imperial empire crumbles, not only at the "edges," but in its centers new, bigger, and more horrendous crimes are in the making: the massive illegal transfer of scarce resources to the collapsing rich, and greater penury and austerity for the poor. As crimes become central to the operation of the political and economic system, Social Justice, its editors, writers, and collaborators have a central role to play in analyzing, criticizing, and posing alternatives for the burgeoning sociopolitical movements that are emerging.

James Petras, Professor, Department of Sociology, State University of New York, Binghamton, and author of numerous books on Central and Latin America

With integrity, Social Justice has continued to enrich the theoretical side of radical criminology, especially by emphasizing world-systems approaches to crime, punishment, and social justice.

Julia R. Schwendinger, Department of Sociology, State University of New York, New Paltz, and Herman Schwendinger, Department of Criminology, University of South Florida, Tampa, both founders of the journal

As I get more crotchety with age, I find fewer long-term, intelligent, courageous and committed players to admire in our criminal/social justice field. But you stand out. You have combined brains with guts, heart, and dedication. I send my commendations and admiration to all of you at Social Justice.

Mimi Silbert, Delancy Street Foundation, San Francisco

I commend the considerable contributions that Social Justice has made to the development of a critical tradition in respect of criminology on both sides of the Atlantic.

The late Ian Taylor, Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Durham, England

Publication of our study in the "South Africa in Transition" issue of Social Justice, which crossed all disciplines, from sociology to law, centrally positioned the study of media issues with regard to human rights discourses. And, from a perusal of the list of authors who contributed to this issue, what is clear is that most have gone on to make significant contributions at the national level with regard to policy and development issues. My sense is that the inclusion of our article in this issue did much to legitimize South African media studies as a crucial area of analysis in any revolution.... Social Justice itself is a constant reminder of the need to keep a watchful eye on subversions of democracy wherever they might occur. That the journal itself is published in the U.S.A. is crucial. When I have taught at U.S. universities, my students have had the sense that nothing can be changed from within this country; that is why they were working on issues related to Palestine, Nicaragua, apartheid, and so on. My retort was "change America first, and the rest will follow." Social Justice is located in the heartland of where things need to change first.

Keyan G. Tomaselli, Director and Professor, Centre for Cultural and Media Studies, Durban, South Africa

Social Justice has inspired prison leaders, including one of my college students at the Texas Ramsey Unit who was a key witness in one of the most important prison litigations in American history the Ruiz v. Estelle class action suit of 1979.... I have used the Attica commemorative issue of Social Justice for the enlightenment of hundreds of college students. In many ways, Social Justice has been doing its part to promote mental liberation and provide sage guidance.

Robert P. Weiss, Professor, Department of Sociology, State University of New York, Plattsburgh

It is of crucial importance that publications such as Social Justice continue to present detailed critiques of current policies and theoretical analysis on issues of crime, conflict, and world order.... People need to know that there are indeed many alternatives to the current world order. The importance of a journal such as Social Justice is that it flies the banner of defiance and resistance. It provides critiques of current policies and practices.

David Williams, indigenous peoples' claims researcher and law lecturer at the Law School, University of Auckland, New Zealand

I congratulate Social Justice, a journal that for as long as I have been alive three decades now has been serving as the threat of a good example, turning out political and social commentary that has scholarly respectability and yet is written and presented in such a way that proves relevant for more than just an academic crowd. There is nothing more threatening to the powers that be than the mixing of scholarship with activism, the combination of intellect and commitment. It is my sincere hope that Social Justice will continue to produce such a fantastically seditious product well into the 21st century.

Tim Wise, Nashville-based writer and lecturer and the director of the Association for White Anti-Racist Education (AWARE)

Social Justice is a top quality journal that makes a very important contribution.

Joan E. Dworkin, Department of Social Work, California State University, Sacramento

This week I spent some time with the Social Justice special 25th Anniversary issue in the library. It is excellent and wonderful. The Berkeley School and everyone associated with it have been important in my work from the beginning. For the anniversary of Social Justice, I give thanks.

Richard Quinney, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, Northern Illinois University

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